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Celtic banish home jinx with Kilmarnock win

Celtic ended a run of four matches without a win at Celtic Park as they coasted to a 3-0 win over Kilmarnock to increase their lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League.

Substitute Niall McGinn scored late on to add to first-half goals from Aiden McGeady and Georgios Samaras as the Hoops ended their home hoodoo.

Stand-in goalkeeper Lukasz Zaluska was the least busy man on the pitch as Celtic dominated proceedings and scored for the first time at Parkhead in three attempts.

With rivals Rangers not playing Dundee United until Sunday the win puts Tony Mowbray’s men three points clear at the top of the table.

Mowbray had selection worries before kick-off with Artur Boruc and Scott Brown ruled out through injury and Stephen McManus’s suspension meaning Glenn Loovens partnered Gary Caldwell in the centre of the defence.

With Kilmarnock’s on-loan keeper Mark Brown prohibited from appearing against his employers Cameron Bell came in for a rare appearance for the Rugby Park side.

Having gone three home games without scoring at home the Celtic players looked on a mission and started the game at an incredible pace.

Within the first 60 seconds Celtic had a penalty claim for handball turned down before Scott McDonald brought a good save from rookie keeper Bell with a neat back-flick at the near post.

Just as it looked like Killie had weathered the early storm McGeady produced a moment of individual skill to give Celtic the lead in the 13th minute.

The Irishman collected a cross at the right of the penalty box before skipping past Craig Bryson and, from an acute angle, arrowing a shot past Bell which ricocheted in off the far post.

Bell was having a busy time in the Kilmarnock goal and was at his best to block a point-blank shot from Socceroos striker McDonald who connected well with a Samaras cross.

However the keeper could do nothing to prevent Celtic doubling their lead in the 32nd minute.

Andreas Hinkel delivered a fine cross from the right to the edge of the six-yard box where Samaras buried it past Bell with a bullet header.

It was not all one-way traffic and on the stroke of half-time Kevin Kyle’s powerful downward header from Gavin Skelton’s cross bounced just wide of the post.

The Scotland international was involved again in the first attack of the second half, this time heading well over from Bryson’s right-wing cross.

With the home side in danger of stagnating McGeady tested Bell with a fierce drive from the edge of the box which the keeper saved low to his left.

There was some more good news for the home support just after the hour mark when Marc-Antoine Fortune made his return from injury to replace Australian McDonald in his first appearance since August, while McGinn came on for McCourt.

And it didn’t take long for McGinn to make an impression as he scored Celtic’s third in the 78th minute.

The Northern Irishman took a touch as he collected a pass at the edge of the box before unleashing an unstoppable shot past Bell.

McGeady forced Bell into a fine save before being replaced by China captain Zheng Zhi, who saw a shot cleared off the line in the final minute.

Elsewhere Hibernian moved up to second with a 2-0 win over Aberdeen, Motherwell defeated Hearts 1-0, St Johnstone thrashed Falkirk 3-1 and St Mirren lost 2-0 at home to Hamilton.

Sat 31 October, 2009
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